Friday, April 29, 2011

An Interview with Sandra Byrd

                                                          About Sandra Byrd

About Sandra Byrd:
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd went on to publish more than three dozen books including her widely-acclaimed adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, and her recent 4-book young adult fiction series, London Confidential. Publishing her Tudor Series, Ladies in Waiting, is a lifelong dream come true.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Radiant, Focus on the Family's Clubhouse Magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Today's Christian Woman, the Oregonian, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. For nearly a decade Sandra has mentored hundreds of students through the Christian Writer's Guild.

Sandra resides in Washington State with her husband Michael, a chaplain, their two children, and a circus dog named Brie.

Read my reviews of the London Confidential Series book 1, 2, 3, and 4

1.What gave you the idea or inspired the London Confidential series?

I get ideas from life all around me. From the circumstances I and others go through, from exciting places and times in history, from an overheard conversation or remark. Anything is fair game! I also think it's fun to learn about how people can live in different places, and have different racial, family, or nationalities but deep inside, in the heart, we are all pretty much the same. We have the same needs, to be loved and to love, to feel wanted and have an important calling, and the same fears, rejection, embarrassment, being alone. Plus, isn't it just fun to go new places and meet new people, even in books?

 I moved quite a bit when I was growing up, so the challenges that Savvy faces in relation to that are ones I can relate to as well. I do love London , too! :)

2. What is the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
Be strong and courageous. Dream big. Trust God even when it seems very dark. Love people but don't let them walk on you. Live with joy and faith.

3. If "Flirting with Disaster" were a movie who would you want to play the main characters?
Hmm. How about Emma Roberts for Savvy, Emma Watson for Penny, possibly America Ferrara for Hazel. The guys are much harder. Blonde and British? Curly brown hair and British? Maybe we'll have to go on a talent hunt!

4. Do you ever find it challenging to get to you keyboard everyday? What do you do when the words won't come?
The hardest part of anything is getting started. Getting started with a new book, a new chapter, a new page, or just sitting down at the computer and staying there till I've done my word count. Once I get about 300 words down on paper, I'm on a roll and I can stay in the zone. Those first 300 are hard, though.

5. What is your writing process?
I dream for a few months and let things knit together in my head and heart, jotting down notes as necessary. Then I throw some queries to my focus group readers and close friends. Then I outline - religiously. Next, I write, a word count per day, every day, till the first draft is done. I send it off to the focus group readers and beg them not to give me any comments for at least a week while I gather my marbles back together and take a long nap.When the comments come back, I tweak the manuscript. Then it's off to my editors, where I await round two!

6. What is the best advice youve ever been given?
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew10:39)

7. What are two things people would be surprised to know about you?
I eat Lemonheads nonstop while writing a rough draft to help me deal with the tension. If I had to be stranded on a desert island with only one luxury, it would be fresh lemonade. I guess I am a lemon fan.

If I weren't a writer I'd be a chef or a baker and my favorite non-writing websites and blogs are almost all related to food.

8. What is on your cd player/ iPod?
It changes every day. Today? Third Day, Abney Park, Redlight King, Jars of Clay, Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

9. When you're not writing, what are you doing?
Cooking and baking, spending time with my family and friends, music, and, of course, reading!

To see what's next for Sandra Byrd or friend her on facebook click on over to her website

Monday, April 25, 2011

Flirting with Disaster

Flirting with Disaster
By Sandra Byrd
About the book:
n a shocking turn of events, all writers for the Wexburg Academy Times will cast their votes for next year's editor - and it looks like Savvy's vote will be the tie breaker! She must choose between a nasty-girl-turned-nice, with a sudden interest in letting Savvy get what she wants, and the prickly Hazelle, who promises nothing at all. Savvy then finds herself wrapped up in a new, seemingly innocent but potentially dangerous activity. It's all at risk in this book: her position on the paper, the boy she likes, the ministry she wants to go well. At a critical moment, Savvy must figure out how to rely on God rather than luck and to overcome temptation before it is too late.

My Review:

Flirtng with Disaster is the fourth and final book in Sandra Byrd’s London Condfidential series (read about1,  2, and 3 here). Savannah Smith has finally settled into her new hometown outside of London, England, is nearly part of the popular group the Aristocrats, as well as settling into to her duties at the paper. Everything is going along swimmingly until she starts getting forwarded emails and text messages saying that is she doesn’t pass them on to some many people in a set amount of time bad things will happen. As a Christian, Savvy knows not to be superstitious but the pull of playing the game is strong when it can mean the difference between fitting in the Aristocrats or not.

I really liked how this series wrapped up so sweetly. Savvy has a way entering into your heart and I couldn’t help but continually root for her to make the right decisions.

Sandra Byrd did an awesome job of tying up all the loose ends from all four books. It was a lot of fun to learn bits and pieces of English culture as well as the way Savvy weaved what she was learning in youth group and Bible study to her weekly newspaper column.

All four books were a quick and fun read. I“d love to see more of Savvy Smith in the future!

Favorite Quote:

“But every good thing only comes from God.”

Come back  Friday for an interview with Sandra Byrd!

Rating: 5 carats
Visit Sandra's website Buy the book

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max On Life

Max on Life
By Max Lucado
About the book:
We have questions. Child-like inquiries. And deep, heavy ones.

In more than twenty-five years of writing and ministry, Max Lucado has been the receiving line for thousands of such questions. The questions come in letters, e-mails, even on Dunkin Donuts napkins. In Max on Life he offers thoughtful answers to more than 150 of the most pressing questions on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.

Max writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope. He responds to the day-to-day questions—parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships—as well as to the profound: Is God really listening?

A special addendum includes Max’s advice on writing and publishing.
Including topical and scriptural indexes and filled with classic Lucado encouragement and insight, Max on Life will quickly become a favorite resource for pastors and ministry leaders as well as new and mature believers.

My Thoughts:

Max on Life - what a great idea for a book. This book is filled with questions Max has been consistently asked over the years and his associated answers. The questions cover many topics and Max has very definitive answers for each. Max Lucado is very intelligent, extremely knowledgeable about the Bible, and a master at applying biblical concepts to life. Max answers these questions with a concise, common sense filled approach.

My favorite thing about this book is its ability to serve multiple purposes. I can see the book used as Bible study or devotional companion, a reference book, a coffee table book as well as a tool of witness for Christ. Max addresses many theological questions answering in an easy to understand manner.

Favorite Quote:

“You are always on God’s itinerary. Come and go as you wish, but he’s always there.”

Rating: a whole gem parcel
Visit Max Lucado's website
Buy the book

Friday, April 15, 2011

Interview with Denise Hildreth Jones

About Denise Hildreth -Jones:
Denise Hildreth-Jones is a writer and international speaker. She has spoken for the last decade to women’s ministries, churches, and for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Denise began her career over seventeen years ago writing for other people. She eventually ventured into the world of fiction with her first novel, Savannah from Savannah, and has since published several books. Her novels have been featured in Southern Living; hailed as “smart and witty” by Library Journal; and chosen for the Pulpwood Queen’s and Women of Faith book clubs. And her recent novel is Hurricanes in Paradise.  Denise makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee where she lives with her husband, five bonus children, two dogs and enjoys a good book and a Coca-Cola.

1. "Flying Solo"is your journal through the first year of divorce, what do you think journaling did for your healing?

I think it was vital to my healing. One of the best gifts that I gave myself. When I was incapable of praying those journals were my prayers.

2. Do you have any advice for journaling?

Don't go into it with an agenda. Simply let it be a place where your feelings and thoughts and emotion can flow out freely. And making them prayers or letters to God is always a beautiful way to journal.

3. You also talk about your alive journal, will you tell a more about that and how it helped you?

One of the things I lost inside my marriage was my heart. I just shut it down. I forgot what I liked, and just became a heart that merely existed. But when I sat in my counselor's office the first time I knew I had to get my heart back. And I went on a desperate attempt to reclaim my heart. So my "alive" journal was where I recorded all of the moments that I felt completely alive. Like riding horses, being at Disney World...all of the things that made me belly laugh and feel completely alive.

4. What do you hope readers will take away from "Flying Solo"

That singleness is not something to wish away. That God is abundantly present in a detailed way in the depths of our pain. And reclaiming a shut down heart is the most wonderful gift you can give yourself.

5. What is your writing process?

Well, fiction is different from non-fiction. Non-fiction is more purposeful. You know where you're going. It is far more outlined and structured. But my fiction is completely organic. I usually know where I will begin and sometimes know where I will end, but each day I ask God to show up having no idea where we will go. And each day He does. And after about six months we have us a new book!

6. When you write do you always have a message in mind. Or does it come about as you write the characters?

(I answered this I think in the above answer)

7.Do you ever find it challenging to get to you keyboard everyday? What do you do when the words won't come?

Every day I'm afraid. There isn't a day I sit at the computer that I'm not afraid there will be nothing that comes out. But without him there wouldn't be anything anyway. I'm not that clever. So, gratefully, if he gives the idea, then he shows up each day with a new one.

8. When you're not writing, what are you doing?

Well, I remarried last year to a wonderful man who has five beautiful children, and I never had children inside my first year marriage. So, I am still learning how to breathe and grocery shop and fix dinner for seven people! Every now and then I get to read a book for pure enjoyment and drink a Coca-Cola!

9. On Pink Sapphire, we rate books in carats. A whole gem parcel being the best. What books a worthy of a whole gem parcel to you?

I love "A Time to Kill" by John Grisham. "Same Kind of Different As Me." Loved that book! And anything by C.S. Lewis.

10. What have you always dreamed of writing about but haven't yet?

So far, everything I've dreamed about I've written I think.

11. Do you have any plans to work on more non-fiction?

Yes, I am working on a new non-fiction project now all about what I learned during my years of Flying Solo and what it means to "reclaim your heart".

12.What are you currently working on? What is next for you?

Well, I am finishing up the final edits of my new fiction book "The First Gardener" that comes out on August 1st!

Thanks Denise, I'm definitely looking forward to your next book!
You can visits Denise Hildreth-Jones' website
Buy the book

Monday, April 11, 2011

Flying Solo

Flying Solo
By Denise Hildreth Jones

About the book:
For one year following her painful divorce, Denise Hildreth chronicled every emotion, every new discovery and every moment of God’s unyielding presence. Flying Solo, the diary of that roller-coaster year, begins on the day Denise sat in court to hear a judge end her 13-year marriage and follows her through 12 months of soul-searching, heartbreak and healing.

With vivid stories, raw emotion and unwavering honesty, Denise opens a window for divorced or divorcing readers to breathe in the fresh air of God’s Spirit. For, among many surprises in store for Denise during her first year of flying solo, one of the most startling was this: God desires to be with us through our pain. She writes, “Flying solo isn’t about being alone. It is about living a life that may hurt at times, wound at times, betray at times; but there is still an incredible unobstructed view of heaven, and an opportunity to discover God in the middle of it.” Readers struggling to stay afloat in the wake of a marriage’s end will hear from a fellow traveler that they don’t have to settle for treading water . . . they can learn to fly.

My Thoughts:

“Flying Solo” has so much to offer! It is Denise’s journal through the first year after her divorce as she rediscovers what makes her feel alive, learns about who God is, and seeks His will for her new life. There are moments of deep sorrow as well as moments of great joy and laughter. There is also a lot of talk from her counseling sessions and each chapter concludes with questions and exercises relating to the content of the chapter for readers to work through on their own journeys, whatever they may be.

Denise Hildreth-Jones is honest and transparent throughout the entire book making it easy to see God working in her life and healing her heart. All and all I thought this was a great book and one I didn’t want to put down yet at the same time one to really spend time with thinking through the questions and lessons.

Come back Friday for an interview with Denise Hildreth-Jones.

Favorite Line:

“But you can’t move on from your memories until you have new ones in place.”

Rating: a whole gem parcel!
Visit Denise Hildreth Jones' website Buy the book

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life Promises For Success

Life Promises for Success
By Jim Tressel

About the book:
Everyone wants to succeed—at work, at home, in relationships, and in life. But sometimes the road to success can be difficult, and even the most seasoned leaders can find themselves in need of some motivation.

In Life Promises for Success, NYT bestselling author and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel shares a collection of inspiring readings and Bible promises designed to encourage those seeking to succeed in every area of life.

Filled with easily applicable Bible verses, motivational quotes, and engaging and inspiring readings, Life Promises for Success is the perfect daily reader for anyone looking to reach their highest goals, achieve greatness, and inspire others to do the same.

My Thoughts:

Everyone wishes to be a success and each person has his/her own definition of what success is. With so many definitions who could ever really know what success is? We can know by understanding God’s view on what success is.

Jim Tressel does a good job in compiling an encouraging devotional filled with promises from God’s word, personal experience and inspiring quotes. This book would be a wonderful resource tool for anyone mentoring others.

Favorite Line:

“Success is a journey that we all take, and it affects every phase of our lives.”

*I received this book free for review from Tyndale House Publishers*

Rating: 4 carats
View Jim Tressel's website Buy the book